Please scroll to the bottom of the post for an update from Governing Board President Thad Stump.
It was with dismay that I read an article in yesterday’s Arizona Republic that the Gilbert Public Schools board is reviewing and considering eliminating 25 courses from the Gilbert Junior High and High School curriculum (source).
Of even greater concern is Board President Thad Stump’s comments that he feels several courses offered in high school should not be classes, but should be turned into extracurricular activities.
Apparently Mr. Stump specified that yearbook, jazz band, marching band, and academic decathlon are among the programs he considers extracurricular.
“I equate marching band with football,” Stump said. “Football has always been extracurricular.”
With all due respect Mr. Stump, that’s a ridiculously short-sighted and ignorant statement. Why some might even say it’s an asinine statement.
You equate marching band with football?
Why, because the marching band plays at halftime of football games?
Why, because both the marching band and the football team wear uniforms?
I’m struggling here with equating participating in a competitive sport with learning music and practicing an art.
My daughter participates in the Highland High School Jazz band, Symphonic band and Marching band. She practices for hours, attends band camp during the summer and weekends, and attends competitions on weekends.
And you want to make jazz band and marching band an “extracurricular activity”. Jazz band is “A-hour” and marching band is “9th hour”. Yes, she gets credit for these classes. But if you and the Gilbert Public Schools board vote to force these classes into being “extracurricular activities” then there simply won’t be enough hours in the day for her to participate.
Help me explain to my 16 year old daughter that has committed a significant portion of her life to music how to chose between Jazz band and Marching band. Help me explain to her why even if she is willing to go to school early, stay late, and take all her classes required to graduate, that you won’t let her play in the band.
Yes, YOU WON’T LET HER PLAY IN THE BAND. Turn these classes into extracurricular activities and you are forcing her to give up some of her music.
I understand budget restrictions. That’s why I willingly pay a fairly significant amount of money every year for my daughter to participate in band. That’s why I give up my own personal time to help the band.
The school is open during A-hour and 9th hour. The magnificent band directors are there and willing to give their time. So how exactly does cutting these classes save money?
The Gilbert Independent School district is blessed to have some of the finest band programs in the state of Arizona. They have incredibly giving band directors, supportive parent groups and some very talented and gifted musicians.
Been to a marching band competition lately Mr. Stump? Maybe not, because no football game was being played”¦
Did you catch a single performance of the Arizona State Champion Highland High marching band? Ever stop by Gilbert High School and see their award winning performance? Stood on the side of the practice field, in August, in the 115 degree heat, and watched these dedicated kids practice for hours?
For the record, I’ve got no problem with football, or any other competitive sport. They are wonderful programs. But to equate band with football is ludicrous. They are as different as night and day. That a president of a school board can’t see that is frightening.
You hold a lot of power and control over my kid’s education. I completely respect the fact that board members are unpaid elected officials. I sincerely appreciate all the governing board members putting in their personal time.
But you all hold my children’s education in your hands, and the fact that you are so short-sighted and apparently completely unaware of the positive impact a music education can hold on a child’s future is worrisome, to say the least.
I implore you investigate this matter fully. You were presented with a panel’s recommendation on Tuesday and nine days later you’re scheduled to vote.
A vote that could impact my daughter’s education, and her future.
Think about that. . .
Gilbert Parents ”“ this is a call to you to get involved. Even if your child isn’t in band, take a look at the courses that are on the chopping block. You elected the school board, make your voice heard. The next meeting is scheduled for December 17 at 7:00pm in the boardroom of the Educational Services building at 140 S. Gilbert Road. The board plans a final vote on these cuts at that meeting.
Members of the public can request to comment on the proposal at the meeting. They also can e-mail input to the governing board: [email protected]
If you are on Facebook, take a look at this grass-roots efforts by some of the Highland High students. Read what they wrote. Check out the planned “protest” at the school board meeting. Need VOTERS to help too!
Please don’t just stand by and let the Gilbert Public Schools board take such a significant action without hearing your voice.
UPDATE 12/12/2009: Here is the text of an email I received from Thad Stump, Gilbert School Board President. (reprinted with permission):